Web 2.0 is one of the latest trends in business and is changing the way companies, and consumers are interacting with one another. Rules that many thought set in stone have become unraveled and it is important for organizations to keep up with the changing times. It is especially important for organizations to understand the nature of online customer communities and how it affects the company and client relationship. This blog post from ZDNet highlights some of the best practices for online customer communities.
- Put the needs of the community first
- Community is mostly not a technology problem
- Active community management
- Measuring success with community requires new yardsticks
- Consumer social networks, grassroots customer communities, and business-initiated customer communities are closely related yet very different creatures
- Customer communities do work as a marketing channel, just not in the traditional way
- The more that business is integrated, the better the community will work
- Growth will come, but not until a community finds its identity
- Mutual ownership and control of communities enables trust and involvement
- Most communities are highly social entities, and the rules of social engagement apply
- Going to the community, instead of making it come to you, is a risky but increasingly viable strategy
- Connect the community with other CRM-related aspects of the organization
Are there any other points that you would highlight? Has your organization been implementing these tips?
Social media is still a relatively new concept, and most people have no idea what it actually does and what the benefits can be when using these tools for your business. Beth Dunn at Small Dots wrote recently about adopting social media for a non-profit business. Read the article here. She brought up four very important points about jumping into social media.
-Tackle something with social media that old methods can’t seem to touch
Ask yourself who you want to come to your page, and then find out what they’re already doing on the web.
-Put your policies on paper first
Things change on the web, so be prepared. A company should plan out your procedures before you jump head first into social media.
-Remember you’re on the same team
Many people working in companies don’t understand the concepts of social media. Work with them and don’t be discouraged when they aren’t jumping for social media ideas.
One of the best ways to improve customer service as a whole is to listen to what stories customers are telling about your company, whether it be good or bad. Becky Carroll reminds us in this post on Customers Rock! that a satisfied customer will recommend a company’s product or service to 3 people, while an unhappy customer will tell 3000 people (clearly exaggerating, but you get the drift). Customer reviews are crucial to the survival of businesses. When was the last time you checked out forums, blogs, discussion boards, and other social media to see what customers are saying about your company? We’ve discussed in a previous post how the use of the social media site Twitter could be used to make customer service proactive instead of reactive, but I’d like to see other examples of how companies have improved their services by scouring the web for consumer insights, complaints, and recommendations.
John Mayer’s touring this summer, and you can keep up with him through the interactive community on his website. After reading about this on David Allen’s Social Media Today post, I took a chance to check it out. The summer tour is being promoted by Blackberry, who is already deep into interactivity with their phones. Mayer has a blog he regularly updates. In addition, after each show has taken place, a webpage is updated with the set list, comments on the show, and photos, for example, the Milwaukee show.
Web 2.0 and communities are all about interaction. Mayer’s given fans a reason to keep coming back to his site, one being that fans are able to vote on a song in the encore for each concert.
Traditional marketing methods are decreasing as more and more consumers are turning to customer reviews, forums, blogs, and discussion boards to reach out to peers for help and advice on new products and services. I came across this post this morning from The Copywriter’s Crucible which points out that Customer Service is the new Marketing. Do I believe this statement’sure I do. Consumers do not want to be pitched sales messages, instead they want insightful advice and a place where they can easily access the information they need. While we can not altogether forget about traditional marketing methods like sponsorships, advertisements, events, and PR, we must begin to turn to new media to allow consumers to place trust in the advice of their peers. Matt Ambrose mentions, ‘Be useful and people will reward you with their loyalty.’ Create a site where consumers can share their passions, navigate to find answers, and interact with others and you will begin to see that your marketing dollars are being well spent. Web 2.0 technology has become increasingly popular and is only expected to grow, make sure your company doesn’t get left behind
In the new world of Web 2.0, the fine line between marketing and customer service is often blurred. Since 70% of the US and Canadian population use the internet, the internet has become a medium for learning about products as well as letting everyone know their faults. As stated in this post at CMS Wire, companies are having to adjust the way they view social media on the web as a way to provide value and a creative outlet to allow current and future customers a platform for discussion. One bad experience can be posted in a blog, and the world can find out about it through a search on the company. Other forms that customers can hear about experiences: wikis, forums, Digg, Reddit, Technorati, and del.icio.us to name a few. But given the right outlet, customers can empower a brand in a positive light. This can promote the value of the brand in the eye of the customer, as stated by Brian Solis, blogger and founder of FutureWorks: Companies that apply resources to help steer and bolster their brand across the social web create relationships that ultimately pay dividends in the form of customer loyalty and referrals. Relationships are the currency of social media. It’s important to see this new form of customer service. Many companies are overlooking the power of social media as a customer service tool. What’s the best company you’ve seen use Web 2.0 as a way to empower their customers?
This post on Customers Rock gives an example of how Lighthouse Ice Cream and Yogurt in Ocean Beach, CA is taking a new approach to ever so common ‘customer wall of fame’ that many restaurants adopt. The shop is full of white poster boards hanging from ribbons, filled with photos. When the lady behind the counter was asked what the photos were, she explained that they have been taking pictures of customers for the past 10 years! This is a cheap and effective way to show customer recognition, but there is more that can be done for no cost at all. With the growing shift of Web 2.0 and social networks, businesses might want to turn to the internet to create communities. Becky Carroll gives a great example of how Facebook groups and a Flickr account full of fans might be an easier way for people to interact and to raise awareness.